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Singapore fest hopes sales hold

Ten movies already sold out

SINGAPORE — Ticket sales bode well for the 16th Singapore Intl. Film Festival (SIFF) to be held April 17-May 3. But the mystery pneumonia SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) plaguing the region has already caused some cancellations.

Ten movies already sold out include “15” from homegrown helmer Royston Tan, “Let’s Love Hong Kong,” “Love at 7-11” and “The Magdalene Sisters.” Other hot sellers include “Bowling for Columbine,” “11’09″01 September 11” and “Desire.”

Besides “15”, two other Singapore movies will have their international preem at this year’s SIFF, “Homerun” and joint venture “Song of the Stork” — one of the few Vietnam war movies to be actually filmed in Vietnam.

Usually selling around 60,000 tickets per year, SIFF still trails in popularity behind some of the region’s other film festivals like Hong Kong and Pusan in South Korea, and receives very little state funding.

“We are dedicated to improving appreciation of Asian Cinema,” says SIFF’s publicist Kim Hogan. “This year, we have the first international retrospective of one of the pioneers of Sri Lankan cinema, Dharmasena Pathiraja.”

The festival will screen 350 films this year, consisting of features, shorts and animation from more than 40 countries, including Israel, Austria and Europe, as well as Singapore’s neighbors Indonesia and Malaysia.

Focus on Asian cinema continues with its annual Silver Screen Awards for Best Asian Film, for which there are 14 contenders. The Silver Screen Awards for Best Singapore Short platforms new Singapore directors — this year’s finalists are “Autograph Book,” “Singapore Funniest Home Video” and “The Usher.”

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